How Does Endometriosis Impact Fertility?
- Posted on: Mar 19 2013
Endometriosis is a common condition, affecting women during their reproductive years. The cause of endometriosis is still a mystery to doctors as it is unknown why endometrium (uterine lining) cells begin growing outside of the uterine cavity. One of the leading theories is “retrograde menstruation”. This is when to menstrual blood that has endometrial cells in it flows backward instead of out the cervix and can migrate up into the fallopian tubes and pelvic cavity, where they stick to various areas and continue to grow in the abdomen.
The result of endometriosis is scarring because the body treats the shedding of the cells as a wound. Over a period of time, scar tissue builds up, which can lead to pain. Endometriosis may affect fertility when the fallopian tubes are impacted.
In patients with endometriosis, endometrial cells sent to the abdomen by retro-grade menstruation act like the cells inside the uterus, bleeding every month when a period is due. This bleeding can cause inflammation and scar tissue. This inflammation and adhesions cause infertility especially when the fallopian tubes are affected.
Endometriosis can be difficult to diagnose due to the wide ranges of symptoms. Women suffering from extremely mild cases can experience severe symptoms and vice versa.
A pelvic exam can help the doctor feel for ovarian cysts, tender pelvic areas or scarring. An ultrasound may show cysts associated with endometriosis called endometriomas. In order to definitively diagnosis endometriosis a laparoscopy or abdominal surgery is needed. A laparoscopy is when the doctor places instruments in a minimally invasive fashion to see the abdomen and reproductive organs with a fiberoptic camera. Because endometriosis is microscopic, it can be overlooked in some cases.
It is estimated that approximately 5-10% of women suffer from endometriosis. Some cases are more severe than others, with most being able to avoid surgery with conservative treatment options.
How Does Endometriosis Lead to Infertility?
Whether or not mild cases of endometriosis lead to infertility is somewhat controversial. More than half of women with endometriosis will have difficulty getting pregnant.
Other reasons endometriosis may affect fertility include:
- Fallopian tubes function poorly due to scarring
- Ovarian function is affected, by multiple surgeries on the ovary
- The release of toxic substances that can harm embryos
How is Endometriosis Treated?
Treatments for the condition are temporary, which means the condition can reoccur after treatment ends. Treatment includes pain medications, hormonal treatments or possibly minor or major surgery. Ironically, pregnancy is the best treatment option because it stops the menstrual cycle bleeding that leads to scar tissue build up.
A Denver fertility clinic specialist can help you address your symptoms and provide the treatment needed to conceive. A number of options are available.
Can I Still Conceive if I Have Endometriosis?
Data shows that endometriosis adversely affects IVF rates by causing poor egg quality and reduced numbers. Although it is more difficult for patients suffering from endometriosis to conceive, it is common for them to still have a successful pregnancy with help from a fertility specialist.
If you have been diagnosed with endometriosis or have undergone treatment for the condition, a fertility clinic in Colorado can help you with treatment options and provide the assistance needed to increase the chances of conceiving. Endometriosis treatment can be difficult and necessitates an individualized approach.
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